By Meredith Wood, Fundera
The decision to start your own business is a big one. Leaving the relative security of corporate life – steady paychecks, paid vacation, health benefits – can be scary. But if you've been thinking about taking the leap and becoming a solopreneur, there might be signs that it's the best move for you.
Below we'll take a look at four ways to tell if you're ready to branch out on your own and become your own boss.
1. You Have the Itch
Maybe you no longer feel challenged at work, maybe you're in a role that's not quite right, or maybe the company culture is a poor fit. Whatever the reason, if you're consistently unhappy at work that may be an indication that it's time to move on and start your own company.
Before you go, though, take advantage of being part of an organization that's already achieved success by understanding how they manage marketing, business development, bookkeeping, or any area that isn't already part of your skillset. Once you're out on your own, you'll be responsible for all aspects of your business, so it's best to observe what your employer does well and implement those best practices in your solo venture.
2. You Have a Great Idea
Being unhappy at your job may be a reason to leave, but having a great idea for a business will drive you to solopreneurship rather than another corporate role. If you've worked for years in a given sector, perhaps you have an innovative idea that will disrupt the industry. Or it's possible that you've had a passion project in the back of your mind for years that's unrelated to your previous work.
Whatever the case may be, you want to be sure that your great idea has the potential to move from dream to reality. Ask yourself: what is the differentiating proposition that will allow your business to stand out from the competition and remain viable long term?
If you're already working in your chosen field, use your network of contacts as a sounding board to test your idea before you strike out on your own. If you’re moving into a new sector, do the necessary research to understand the current state of the industry and discern how you can capitalize on known pain points.
3. You Have the Know-How
Solopreneurship can be a tough road because you have no one else to rely on. You want to be sure your own knowledge and understanding of your industry and what you have to offer to it is air tight before you begin your own venture. If you're going to continue working in an industry you already know well, consider taking some general business administration courses or turn to online resources for help. Harvard Business School offers free access to hundreds of scholarly articles from faculty and staff on their Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard program.
Sometimes the most important thing is to know what you don't know. Before setting out on your own, engage a handful of people in your network to serve as mentors. When you find yourself facing an unexpected bump in the road, having someone you trust and respect to provide you with guidance will make the solo road feel less overwhelming.
4. You Have the Funding
Starting a new business is expensive. From acquiring space and equipment to establishing your brand through advertising, a website, and print materials, there is usually a significant investment to be made up front before you can even think about turning a profit.
In order to determine whether or not you're in a good place financially to support yourself and your business during this first period, you'll want to create projections for your future business. Market research will allow you to understand how others with similar business models generate their revenue and can give you an idea of what you can realistically expect to make in the first year or two. Armed with this knowledge, you can either rely on your own financial reserves to see you through, or you’ll know you need to reach out to family and friends or get a business loan for assistance.
Having the drive and knowledge to start your own business is more than half the battle. If you think you're ready to become your own boss, the best thing you can do to test the viability of your idea is to put together a business plan.
Your plan will allow you to clarify your mission, set goals for your business's growth, and create a realistic financial picture that will guide you on the road of solopreneurship.
About the Author
Meredith Wood is the head of content and editor-in-chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident finance advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.